Despite being hindered by low vaccine supply, the County is continuing to expand its outreach to communities most impacted by COVID-19, setting wheels in motion to get all residents vaccinated as easily and quickly as possible. Public health officials also continue to strongly advise everyone to take steps to limit the spread of the virus and reduce strain on our health care systems. These actions include wearing a mask when leaving home, limiting interactions with those outside your immediate household, keeping a physical distance of at least six feet apart, avoiding non-essential travel, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.
COVID-19 Cases in Santa Clara County
This past week, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department reported 36 more individuals in the county who contracted COVID-19 have lost their lives. This brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the county to 1,858. As of Friday, March 12th, the total case count had reached 112,470, and the 7 day rolling average of new cases (based on specimen collection date) was at 169 cases per day.
As of Friday, there were 138 COVID positive patients hospitalized in Santa Clara County (down from 171 the prior week and 205 the week before that). Of these hospitalizations, 41 were in the ICU. COVID positive patients now occupy 12% of all ICU beds, and 26% of beds are currently available. These ICU bed capacity numbers already factor in surge beds that are staffed. More data can be found through the Public Health Department’s Data Dashboards.
Updates on County Vaccination Efforts
This week, the County continued its efforts to move as quickly as possible to provide shots to the community’s most vulnerable residents, announcing several partnerships to bring additional vaccination sites to the most impacted communities in Santa Clara County:
- On Tuesday, the County announced that it had doubled door-to-door canvassing efforts to reach the local communities that have been most harmed by the pandemic. Starting this week, the County added 30 full-time canvassers to its Community Health and Business Engagement Team, ensuring at least 60 people who will be knocking on doors in high-risk neighborhoods each day to provide vaccine education and scheduling. County leaders continue to prioritize strategies to bring services, testing, and vaccine information to those who need it most where they live and work. Efforts are focused on communities of color, essential workers at high risk, and sectors with hard-to-reach workers.
- On Friday, officials from the County and Santa Clara County Office of Education announced that all K-12 education and school employees in the County had now been offered the opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine. This was made possible through robust outreach efforts conducted by the County Office of Education and school officials, including a targeted vaccination site for the K-12 workforce at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. The site is a collaboration between Santa Clara County Fire, Santa Clara County EMS, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and city fire and EMS agencies.
Vaccine data from the California Department of Public Health’s California Immunization Registry (CAIR2) now show that 60.5% of county residents age 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 346,423 total residents now partially or fully vaccinated. These data reflect strong progress towards the County’s goal of vaccinating at least 85% of residents age 16 or older by August 1, 2021. The data also continue to reflect the ongoing need to focus vaccination efforts on ensuring equitable access for those at greatest risk of serious illness and death, and those at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The State of California has established phases and tiers for when different populations are eligible to receive vaccine. Information on who will be eligible next is available on the State of California’s vaccination website. As a reminder, starting on February 28th, healthcare providers across Santa Clara County expanded access to COVID-19 vaccination to county residents who work in education and childcare, emergency services, and the food and agriculture industries. The latest updates on vaccine eligibility and how to schedule an appointment are available on the County’s website at sccfreevax.org, including information on when those newly eligible can start to schedule vaccine appointments. Residents without internet access or who need additional assistance can call 211 for assistance in multiple languages. Appointments fill up quickly, but new appointments will be regularly released as vaccine supply allows, and community members are encouraged to check regularly.
Board of Supervisors Received COVID-19 Staff Report on March 9th
On Tuesday, March 9th, the Board of Supervisors received a presentation from the Public Health Officer and County Administration related to the current status of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County and the changes in the State’s Health Orders. County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith began the presentation with a brief overview of issues related to the State entering into a third-party administrator agreement with Blue Shield for the statewide distribution of vaccines. The County has significant concerns regarding this process, because it poses significant risks to the health and welfare of residents of the county and would eliminate local control for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody reported to the Board that lab-confirmed COVID-19 case and deaths continue to decline, and the number of COVID+ hospitalized patients is decreasing. Dr. Cody also provided information reflecting that County testing rates have been declining, but they remain higher than the state median. Dr. Marty Fenstersheib then provided updates on the County’s vaccination efforts, reporting that there remain challenges, including the fact that vaccine allocations are not meeting our capacity and that very few first-dose appointments are currently available. Dr. Rocio Luna next provided an equity update regarding the County’s mobile vaccine delivery to medically vulnerable populations. Brian Darrow with the Office of the County Executive gave the Board an update on the County’s data-driven vaccine plan and expanded residential and work related outreach efforts. Dr. Fenstersheib provided the Board with an update on COVID-19 testing, reminding individuals that testing is still an important public health tool in stopping the chain of transmission, and that as more activities open, continued testing for those at high risk is still encouraged. Dr. Ahmad Kamal gave a brief overview of local healthcare system preparedness, reporting that COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline, hospitals have resumed non-emergency procedures and outpatient services, and the situation at skilled nursing facilities has improved, largely due to employee and resident vaccinations.
Click here to view the full meeting agenda and related materials, and the webcast of the discussion under the item is available here and a copy of the presentation slides has been attached to this message.
County COVID Testing Locations
The community testing program operated by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center continues to offer extensive drop-in and appointment-based COVID-19 testing at several locations across the county. Residents can book an appointment for the Fairgrounds or the various rotating city sites, and appointments can be made in Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, or English.
Additional Community-Based and State-Operated Testing Options
Roots Community Health Center and Gardner Health Services continue to organize free, community-based drop-in COVID-19 testing events every Wednesday. Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) provides similar community-based testing every Friday at their Story Road site. No appointments are necessary, and all individuals are served regardless of insurance or immigration status.
- Gardner Health Services: Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Avenue, San José, 95116. For more information, call 408-457-7100.
- AACI Health Center: Story Road Clinic: 749 Story Rd, #50, San José CA 95122. For more information, call 408-975-2763.
In addition, there are several testing sites now operated OptumServe, a State contractor. These sites are free but require appointments. Visit here or call (888) 634-1123 to schedule an appointment:
- Independence High School (drive through): 617 N. Jackson Ave., San José.
- Mount Pleasant High School (drive through): 1750 S. White Road, San José.
- Gilroy Civic Center: 7351 Church St., Gilroy
- Gavilan College: Social Science Building, 5055 Santa Teresa Blvd, Gilroy CA 95020.
- Grange in Morgan Hill: 40 E 4th Street, Morgan Hill CA 95037.
- James Lick High School: 2951 Alum Rock Ave., San José.